Friday, September 13, 2013
Bangladeshi Human Rights Leaders Indicted
The leaders of a Bangladeshi human rights organization, Odhikar, were recently detained. One of them, Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, Secretary of Odhikar and a member of the World Organization against Torture General Assembly, was arrested on August 10th and charged on September 12th for “[distorting] images by using photo shop and publishing a fabricated report, which enraged public sentiment,” under Section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act. However, these charges were inaccurate because Khan was merely portraying a gruesome situation that occurred last May when law enforcement agencies killed 61 people in Dhaka. In retaliation the police urged the Metropolitan Magistrate Court to frame charges against Khan and the Director of Odhikar, Mr. Nasiruddin Elan, who will be indicted in the near future. Unfortunately, these two men, who had been fighting for human rights since 1994, were treated like criminals, even though they sought out justice.
I find it absurd and inhumane that a government silenced its opposition – a human rights organization, one that aids and protects its people by uncovering and displaying real problems with the country’s police and government. The role technology played in Khan’s indictment was crucial. While beneficial to the spread of the truth, technology singled Khan out as a key voice in the human rights movement, due to the articles he posted online on Odhikar’s website. Thus, technology, though crucial to the development of Khan’s organization, was a major contributing factor to his imprisonment.
Although this event may seem insignificant in the larger scheme of global human rights violations, it is symbolic of the actions taken by all preexisting and extant totalitarian governments. Other countries, such as North Korea and the former Soviet Union, have also taken aggressive and oftentimes disastrous measures to silence their outspoken adversaries. Consequently, the voices of truth are dimmed, as the rights of human beings and their freedom of speech is taken away from them by the oppressive regimes in which they live.